Wednesday afternoon saw the Women’s Irish National Team play their second game of the tournament. Turkey were the opponents and the Irish players, who had a day off on Tuesday, were eagerly anticipating this game.
Ireland made their mark and surely showed the international scene that they are not just in Bulgaria to make up the numbers. Unfortunately, three goals in three minutes in the first period did all the damage and Ireland was unable to pull the goals back. Turkey may have expected a rather easy game from there on in but the Irish players said no and Turkey were made earn their victory. Ireland closed the door on Turkey after what may have been a jittery few minutes and fought for every last puck right until the end of the game. Turkey did not score again and Ireland killed off five penalties including a minute and a half when they were down to 3 players.
Seanna Conway started in net and in front of her the starting line-up consisted of Sonya McEneaney and Beatrice Hosgood on defence while Lorna Hoey, Aine Morris and Rebecca Callan were on offence. Both teams stood up to one another for the first nine minutes or so before the Turks opened the scoring with an even strength goal from Didem Aydogdu. Turkey were quick to follow this up with a goal from Refika Yilmaz before Seda Demir made it 3 – 0 with twelve minutes of play gone. It was these three goals in the space of three minutes that won the game for Turkey. The first period finished out 3 – 0 with Turkey outshooting Ireland 14 – 2. The only other action of the period saw Fiona Ryan head to the penalty box for tripping. Ireland had to finish out the last twenty four seconds of the period down a player but they held on.
Head Coach, Vytautas Lukosevicius, obviously reminded his players during the first intermission that they were in Bulgaria for a reason and Ireland were there to compete. The team was much more focused going into the second period and made certain that Turkey would not score again. They needed to do this to give them any chance of getting back into the game. Ryan’s penalty meant Ireland needed to start the second period down a player. They could have easily folded there and then but they held on and killed off the penalty. The team talk must have worked! There were no penalties and no goals in the second period which meant that the statistics sheet looked a little empty. However, the shots on goal told the story a bit better. Turkey outshot Ireland by 20 – 1. Ireland withstood all pressure and they were still in this game after forty minutes of play.
The third period did not start well for Ireland as Rebecca Callan received a two minute penalty for tripping with only nine seconds gone. Ireland were successful in killing this penalty off before they were given an opportunity to pull a goal back when Nilay Gunay of Turkey was penalised and went to the box for two minutes. Ireland were unable to convert any of the chances that they got though. For six of the next ten minutes, Ireland were down a player as Elaine McCann and Hoey each went to the penalty box while Ireland were also penalised for too many players. Again, Ireland withstood any pressure in order to give themselves any chance of staying in the game. They were gifted one last chance to pull a goal back when Turkey took a penalty in the final two minutes. Unfortunately, Ireland were not able to convert any of their chances and the game finished 3 – 0. Those three goals in the first period were the difference in the end.
A valiant effort by the Women’s Irish National Team and a fantastic result in what is only their second ever game at this level. The team has made its mark and has shown that it can compete at this level. Bring on both Spain and Bulgaria now! The Bulgaria game may prove to be the most interesting so far. Before each of those games though; the Women’s Irish National Team has been invited to attend a reception with the Irish Ambassador in Sofia to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
Special congratulations go to Seanna Conway who was selected as Ireland’s best player. Conway faced sixty one shots and saved fifty eight of those. Conway was a huge reason that the team kept in the game right until the end and finished the game with a 0.951 save percentage. More of the same will be needed against both Spain and Bulgaria in the remaining games.
Final Score: Ireland 0 – 3 Turkey (0 – 3, 0 – 0, 0 – 0)
SOG: 5 – 61 (2 – 14, 1 – 20, 2 – 27)
PIM: 10 – 4 (2 – 0, 0 – 0, 8 – 4)
Saves: S. Conway (58/61) – T. Gunay (5/5)